As the Social / Local Marketing Coordinator, I get the pleasure of working in association with racers all over the country. Lately though, I’ve been helping manage and race alongside the Motorcycle Superstore / OMA-KTM Offroad Team, based out of Southern Oregon. Gage Johnson, one of the racers, recently participated in an ISDE event in Tillamook Oregon and wanted to share his experience.
We started off the weekend by leaving my home in the Applegate Valley at 9am Saturday morning. We had a long 6 to 7 hour trip ahead of us, and in order to keep it fun we made a few stops along the way. Once we finally made it to the Diamond Mill OHV area I knew the race was going to be pretty good! The dirt was prime, the temperature outside was an amazing 80 degrees, the luscious trees and ferns of Tillamook were green and full of life and I had a smile on my face that couldn’t be hidden.
After getting camp established, I was lucky enough to walk three of the five special tests at this race. If you don’t already know, the special tests are basically mini sprint races sporadically spread out through an ISDE race and are based off of your time, with the lowest combined time taking the win. Think golf with two wheels and 3 times the competition. By walking those three tests I was able to pick some unique lines that could hopefully help me on race day.
After a sleepless night in the bed of my truck, I was woken by the sun in a rather obnoxious manner and was more than ready to get the 87.5 miler under way. I started on the 13th minute with my kid brother Luke Johnson and his competition Mikhail Jones. Each rider chooses a minute in which to start his race with up to 3 riders starting per minute. Maybe a mile after the start, we ran into a line of bikes where the first special test began. I took off first out of my group and quickly found my rhythm. I caught and passed one rider who veered off the course and in a blink of an eye, the test was over. It was probably the shortest test I have ever raced, at a whopping 20 seconds long.
A little ways down the trail I came up to another group of riders. It was test number two. I was surprised at how short the transfer section between the first two checks was. I was hoping to loosen up and settle in before the second test began. Other than riding tight and washing out in a sharp turn which caused me to lose some time, this test went pretty well. Although, rookie mistakes like losing your front end can cost you the whole race in an ISDE, I knew that there was a whole lot of racing left.
The 3rd, 4th and 5th Special tests all took place in between the second check and the third. I found this pretty weird because it meant that the last loop and next two check points had no tests. On the 3rd test I found myself riding very well. I was ripping through the trees and was in the zone as my riding felt effortless. Then something TERRIBLE happened... I blew a turn and got stuck which really took out my hopes for my first overall. I was a little bummed after that, but I knew I had to move ahead and leave the mistakes behind. The fourth test was a fast one and was super fun! Team member Derek Steahly started right in front of me and I spent the whole test trying to catch him and beat his time. I don’t know who won on that test out of Derek and I, but I'm definitely rooting for myself. Once reaching the 5th test I found out my other OMA-KTM , Motorcycle Superstore team member Randy (Boney) Pekarek lost his rear brake pads and was riding down the gnarly hills of Tillamook with less than ideal stopping power. I’m guessing that, his experience was a thrilling one. The last and final test was pretty cool. It had a bunch of spectators cheering you on, which gets me super pumped. Unfortunately I was pumped enough to hit neutral at the bottom of a little hill then miss a course marking and do a section of the test twice. Dangit.
The second loop was more or less a fast trail ride with my friends and teammates since all of the special tests were behind us.
I am super lucky to be on such a cool team with so many awesome people behind it. I would like to give a shout out to Motorcycle Superstore, OMA-KTM, On-site Screeners, One Industries, and Ronnie Lyons for letting me ride a bike that I haven’t even bought yet.